The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 3
The next night, the army filed across the river. They camped that night without incident. During the march, the men complained of the distance and began to leave their heavy packs by the side of the road, keeping only food, ammunition, blankets, and water. But they did not yet quite look like veterans - they still formed a complete regiment, while the veteran companies never formed more than a brigade. They marched until the youth returned to his idea of a vast marching governmental demonstration. Then, one dawn he was awakened by the Tall Soldier and forced to run. The men were bewildered. Ahead of them they heard shots. The youth realized that even if he wanted to run away at that moment he could not, for the entire regiment was running with and around him in a mob. He lamented his enlistment. As they ran further, they heard artillery fire.
The youth ran on, eager for a scene of battle. In several little fields were knots of skirmishers. In one clearing there was a definite battle line. The regiment came upon the body of a dead soldier, bearded, lying on his back, the soles of his shoes worn almost as thin as writing paper. The youth looked into the dead man's face and wanted the time to walk around the body and stare into it, to read its eyes.
During the march, the youth felt his drive onward leaving; they were going too slowly and going seemingly nowhere. He had too much time to reflect, and came to the absurd conclusion that they were marching straight into a trap, that the moronic generals were going to sacrifice them. He wished to tell his comrades of his newly discovered truth that only he saw. He said nothing, again for fear of ridicule, but instead lagged behind until a lieutenant hit him with a sword and told him to hurry.
The men were halted, and many began to use surrounding wood, rocks, and dirt to erect little barricades to deflect bullets. The men debated on the theory surrounding the practice, but were ordered to withdraw from the area before they could be tested. Again and again this cycle went on through the day, the men alternately building barricades and having to move to a different area. The men were impatient; the Tall Soldier swore at the Loud Soldier when the loud one berated the generals' handling of the battle plan. Throughout the day, the Tall Soldier became calmer and never raised his voice; he accepted the marching and did not complain when forced to leave behind a barricade. The youth began to muse:
"Once he thought he had concluded that it would be better to get killed directly and end his troubles. Regarding death thus out of the corner of his eye, he conceived it to be nothing but rest, and he was filled with a momentary astonishment that he should have made an extraordinary commotion over the mere matter of getting killed. He would die; he would go to some place where he would be understood. It was useless to expect appreciation of his profound and fine senses from such men as the lieutenant. He must look to the grave for comprehension." Chapter 3, pg. 28
The sound of skirmishes and artillery grew to a roar and a nearby brigade went into action. The youth stared intensely. Suddenly, the Loud Soldier tapped the youth on the shoulder and said that he was convinced he was going to be killed that day. He gave the youth a yellow package of letters and keepsakes to deliver to his family. The Loud Soldier was trembling and turned away as he handed over the package.